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Category — Taliban

Pak Terrorism Scene – Sept 20, 2017

Jammers for official vehicles in Bajaur: Report in Dawn, Sept 20, 2017
KHAR: The authorities on Tuesday decided to install jammers in the vehicles of all the senior officials of the political administration and Bajaur Levies in order to protect them from bomb explosions.

An official told Dawn here that the decision was taken at a high-level meeting. He pointed out that such devices had already been installed in some vehicles of the officials, but these failed to jam cell phone signals because of their poor quality.

The official said the move to install jammers in official vehicles was taken following the Sunday’s bomb blast in Mamond tehsil, which targeted the vehicle of political tehsildar Fawad Khan, killing him along with five personnel of Bajaur Levies. He disclosed that the vehicle of the political tehsildar targeted in the remote-controlled bomb blast on Sunday had no jammers.

The official said the administration officials had expressed dismay over the absence of jammers in their vehicles thus, making them vulnerable to militant attacks.www.dawn.com/news/1358876/jammers-for-official-vehicles-in-bajaur

Security men hurt in Kurram blast: Report in Dawn, Sept 20, 2017

PARACHINAR: Three security personnel were injured in a landmine explosion in Kurram tribal region on Tuesday.

According to political administration officials, security personnel were on a routine patrol in Narray area of central Kurram when a landmine planted along a road by unknown miscreants went off with a bang. As a result, three personnel were injured and their vehicle was damaged.

The injured personnel were shifted to the CMH Kohat. The political administration arrested several tribesmen under the collective territorial responsibility clause of FCR following the blast. https://www.dawn.com/news/1358877/security-men-hurt-in-kurram-blast

Two LeJ terrorists planning target killings in Muharram arrested: Report in The News, Sept 20, 2017

Karachi: The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) on Tuesday claimed to have arrested two operatives of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) ‘who were planning to carry out target killings in Muharram’.

In a statement, CTD Investigation SSP Naveed Ahmed Khawaja said the suspects – identified as Muhammad Abdullah and Adnan Ahmed – were apprehended during a raid near Masjid-e-Qaba situated at Bandhani Colony, Liaquatabad.

The raid was carried out by Karachi CTD Investigation In-Charge Chaudhry Gulam Sarwar under supervision of SSP Khawaja. Three 9mm pistols, 15 bullets and a motorcycle, bearing registration number KGF-0313, were found in the suspects’ possession.

According to SSP Khawaja, apprehensions regarding a possible surge in targeted killings based on ethnic and sectarian affiliations in the metropolis had pushed the CTD to undertake special search operations in various parts of Karachi.

“There were reports that banned jihadist and sectarian outfits were planning to carry out targeted killings of members of their rival sects during the month of Muharram,” he said. During a preliminary interrogation, the suspects confessed their involvement in sectarian killings in the city, he added.

“They were planning more killings during Muharram,” the CTD SSP claimed. He said the CTD was expecting more disclosures during further interrogations. On August 7, the CTD claimed to have foiled a terror bid in Karachi by arresting four suspected terrorists and killing three others during operations in different parts of the city.

According to the CTD, three raids were conducted as a result of a rise in terrorist activities in the city in the month of July. The CTD carried out operations in areas of Machar Colony and localities of MA Jinnah Road. The operations were conducted on the basis of intelligence sharing that some terrorists, who have their affiliations with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, were hiding in these areas.

The arrested men had admitted to killing a police sub-inspector in 2015 and planned to target jamaat khannas belonging to the Aga Khani community, imambargahs and shrines.

A recent meeting on Karachi’s law and order situation was told that police officials and members of minority sects in the city were faced with threats of target killings. Participants of the meeting that was held in May this year were told that police officials and members of the Shia community in upper Sindh’s districts were faced with threats of suicide attacks and improvised explosive device explosions.

Convened in Karachi, the meeting was attended by officials of the law enforcement agencies, including the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), and the intelligence agencies to discuss threat perception and policies to counter the threats.

The CTD Karachi chief told The News later that the meeting had also discussed the security situation in Sindh, including the intelligence and joint interrogation reports on 94 madrasas that were investigated.

He said active terrorist groups in Sindh, including Karachi, were Jamaatul Ahrar, the TTP’s Swati, Punjabi and Geedar groups, al Qaeda, the SSP, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), the SMP, Jundullah, the Islamic State (commonly known as Daesh) and militant wings of political and nationalist parties.

Referring to the threats in Karachi and upper Sindh, DIG Farooqi said a nexus of terrorist groups was behind them, comprising the LeJ, the TTP and al Qaeda, which were operating out of Balochistan.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/231222-Two-LeJ-terrorists-planning-target-killings-in-Muharram-arrested-CTD

5 martyred in Sukkur factory blast: The News, Sept 20, 2017
SUKKUR: Five people, including security personnel, were martyred and eight others were injured in a blast while defusing explosives at a cement factory in Sukkur on Tuesday. Sukkur DIG Feroze Shah said the explosion took place when the security personnel were engaged in defusing the explosives. The blast resulted in the martyrdom of five people – including two policemen, a Rangers official and two labourers. Six Rangers personnel, the factory manager and a labourer were injured the blast.

A heavy contingent of police arrived at the venue following the incident and started the rescue operation. The injured were shifted to a nearby hospital. Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took notice of the matter and sought report with complete details of the incident, including where and how the explosives were placed inside the factory and who brought them there. –INP

Our correspondent adds: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, taking serious notice of the ammunition blast at Rohri Cement Factory, has directed the IG police to inquire into the incident which claimed precious lives and report to him.

A handout issued by the CM House on Tuesday said the chief minister, raising some basic questions, asked the IG police as to why ammunition was dumped at the factory? If the dumped ammunition was for crushing purposes only, then why such a serious situation developed that the factory administration had to call the bomb disposal squad to defuse it? Whether the factory administration was authorised to procure and dump the ammunition in such a quantity or not and whether they have had a storage facility for the purpose or not?

“This inquiry must be conducted on the questions I have raised,” the CM said and added that he would like to know whether the bomb disposal squad members were trained enough or not. Meanwhile, the chief minister directed his Principal Secretary Sohail Rajput to coordinate with divisional administration, Sukkur, and provide them his helicopter and arrange an air ambulance, if required to shift injured personnel of the incident to Karachi. The chief minister expressed his profound grief and sorrow over the loss of life in the blast and assured the victims’ families of his full support and cooperation.https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/231173-Five-martyred-in-Sukkur-cement-factory-blast

September 20, 2017   No Comments

Pak Terrorism Scene- Sept 18, 2017

TTP claims responsibility for Bajaur Agency roadside blast
Reuters report in The Nation, Sept 17, 2017, 1:09 pm
A roadside bomb exploded Sunday killing a local government official and four policemen in Pakistan’s restive northwestern tribal area bordering Afghanistan, officials said.

The blast took place in the town of Mamoond, some 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Khar, the main town of Bajaur, one of the country’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts, where the army has been battling Taliban militants.

“A local government officer and four tribal police were killed and another was wounded when an improvised explosive device planted on a roadside exploded when their vehicle passed,” senior local government official Anwarul Haq told AFP.

Local security officials confirmed the attack and casualties.

The Pakistani Taliban group said it carried out an attack on Sunday that killed five people.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Mohammad Khurassani said the militants planted an improvised explosive device “to target security personnel” in the Bajaur Agency area that is part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Bajaur is one of the Pashtun tribal regions near the Afghan border. Security in the region has improved in recent years after the Pakistani military mounted offensives there against the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban, which is considered the country’s biggest security threat.

But militants continue to stage attacks in FATA, which remains off-bounds for foreigners and is considered one of the most volatile parts of the nuclear-armed nation of 208 million people.http://nation.com.pk/national/17-Sep-2017/seven-martyred-in-bajaur-agency-roadside-blast

September 18, 2017   No Comments

Nisar chides Asif for remarks about banned outfits

by Iftikhar A. Khan in Dawn, September 17th, 2017
ISLAMABAD: Former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan assailed Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Saturday over his remarks about banned outfits, saying that comments on sensitive and important matters must be based on facts and record and not on assumptions and riddles.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, Chaudhry Nisar pointed out that 26,000 people laid down their lives while over 70,000 sustained injuries in the war on terrorism. He said that Pakistan also suffered a loss of over $100 billion as a frontline state in the war.

Mr Asif in a recent TV interview had stressed the need “for putting our own house in order” and keeping tabs on banned organisations, including Jaish-e-Muhammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, admitting that the groups were operating from within Pakistan. In another interview he said that he stood by his words.

Chaudhry Nisar regretted that despite the sacrifices, some people not only criticised and pointed fingers at Pakistan, but also made it a target of derision. “The reason is that we provide the world an opportunity to ridicule us and put the blame of their failures on us, due to our irresponsible attitudes and statements,” he noted.

He said it was quite strange that at a time when the army chief was asserting that Pakistan had rendered enormous sacrifices and the world must acknowledge this and should ‘do more’, the foreign minister and the interior minister were taking the position that Pakistan should do more.

He said that these two persons had been ministers for the past four and a half years. “Did they ever express these views in the meetings of the cabinet or National Security Committee? Does the minister realise how much his statement was played up and publicised in India and how it was used by that country to substantiate its baseless claim that the problem is with Pakistan?” he asked.

“This is also a fact, unfortunately, that such statements are made to criticise our intelligence agencies and armed forces. But if this is the case then one should have the moral courage to do plain talk rather than asking riddles,” Chaudhry Nisar said.

He said that of course there were some weaknesses and shortcomings vis-à-vis national security but these issues should be addressed through consultation, hard work and consensus. “One should not make fun of it before the entire world through statements. National security issues are very sensitive and one should consider national interest before speaking about such matters.”

He asked if there was not a visible improvement in the internal security situation today as compared to the one that the country faced in 2013-14. “What made this possible were joint efforts and not under any coercion or help from outside.” Federal and provincial governments, arm-ed forces, civil armed forces, and intelligence agencies contributed to the joint efforts, he added.

The former interior minister said if the defence minister saw any weakness or shortcoming, he should have taken remedial measures or should have raised the issue at the cabinet or National Security Com-mittee level. Ministers should come up with solutions rather than making statements, he remarked.

Referring to a claim made by an anchor of a private TV channel, putting his own words into the mouth of Kulsoom Nawaz, Chaudhry Nisar said it was totally ridiculous, baseless, provocative and a total lie. What was most surprising was why he recalled such a thing after almost 17 years. This is a matter of serious concern that Ms Nawaz was unwell these days and she was not in a position to comment on such news.

He said any attempt to make Ms Nawaz controversial, especially when she was not well, was inappropriate.

A prominent TV anchor had recently quoted Ms Nawaz as saying that Chaudhry Nisar was not with her when she had launched a campaign against former dictator retired General Pervez Musharraf while her husband was under incarceration. www.dawn.com/news/1358202/nisar-chides-asif-for-remarks-about-banned-outfits

September 18, 2017   No Comments

He’s on Wanted Posters in U.S., and Campaign Posters in Pakistan

By MEHREEN ZAHRA-MALIK in New York Times online, Sept 16, 2017
LAHORE, Pakistan — For years, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, one of the most-wanted militant leaders in South Asia, has lived in the open in Pakistan despite a $10 million American bounty on his head. He has mocked efforts by the United States to capture him and led large public gatherings in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city.

Now he is trying something even more brazen: In recent weeks, he has become the face of a new political party campaigning to win the seat of a former prime minister in the National Assembly.

Last month, the Islamist charity that Mr. Saeed founded — Jamaat-ud-Dawa, which is widely accused of being a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group that waged the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks and is on the United Nations list of global terrorist groups — announced that it was starting the Milli Muslim League political party.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has forbidden the display of Mr. Saeed’s picture on election posters, but despite these clear orders, the constituency in Lahore is covered with posters showing Mr. Saeed, his visage side by side with the official candidate, Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, a senior Jamaat-ud-Dawa leader.

Mr. Saeed, who is under house arrest, cannot run for the seat himself nor can he attend campaign events in person. Mr. Sheikh was placed in 2012 on a United States Treasury sanctions list of those designated as leaders of terrorist organizations.

A large restaurant on Lakshmi Chowk, a boulevard named after the Hindu goddess of fortune, has been converted into the party’s headquarters, where dozens of volunteers were unfolding banners and posters on a recent visit.

One group went over voter lists in preparation for a door-to-door awareness drive, while more than two dozen young men prepared for a motorcycle campaign through the narrow alleys and congested roads of Lahore’s Old City. In a social media office, volunteers edited campaign videos to be released online.

Naveed Qamar, the party’s campaign manager, said a women’s wing made up of relatives of senior Jamaat leaders was going door to door, and the party had set up around 150 small offices and stalls across the election district.

“People have emptied their homes and offered them to us as offices,” Mr. Qamar said. “One supporter paid for all the banners. Another gave us his printing press.”

He made no attempt to hide the party’s anti-India leaning or what he called its “ideological affinity” with Lashkar-e-Taiba, adding the party had the “full support and blessing” of Mr. Saeed.

“From the deepest recesses of his heart, no Pakistani wants friendship with India,” Mr. Qamar said. “In that way, we are with Lashkar-e-Taiba.”

The party, which says its goal is to unite Pakistan’s Muslims across all ethnicities and languages, is not yet formally registered with the election commission, because it submitted its documents only in August, so Mr. Sheikh is running run as an independent candidate in the special election being held on Sunday to fill the seat that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was forced to vacate over corruption charges in July.

“But that does not mean we are not a reality,” Mr. Qamar said. “We have launched our party, and our campaigning is going on in full swing.”

The campaign is seen as largely symbolic, and the party is not expected to win the seat.

In January, the Pakistani government put Mr. Saeed under house arrest to keep him from collecting funds for his charity in violation of United Nations resolutions. Pakistan also included the charity on an interior ministry watch list, though it did not ban it.

Against the backdrop of Mr. Saeed’s arrest, many see the Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s bold foray into politics as an attempt to gain legitimacy at a time when Pakistan’s government is being forced to act against it amid pressure from the United States and groups like the Financial Action Task Force, which tracks terrorism financing.

“It’s clear that the Milli Muslim League is meant to legitimize or camouflage Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s actions and avert international sanctions,” said Muhammad Amir Rana, an expert on jihadist groups who runs the Pak Institute for Peace Studies in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital.

A closed-door meeting organized by the institute in March, and attended by high-profile leaders of groups banned in Pakistan, discussed the “reintegration and rehabilitation” of those willing to renounce violence, Mr. Rana said. One of those in attendance was Mr. Saeed’s brother, Hafiz Masood, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa spokesman.

After that meeting, the institute recommended that the government set up a parliamentary body to assess the activities of groups willing to shun violence, and that it review the criteria for banning organizations. “But the state doesn’t seem to have a real plan to mainstream these groups,” Mr. Rana said.

For decades, Pakistan has cast a benign eye on groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba — which is perceived as an asset because its attacks target Indian soldiers in disputed Kashmir — even as the government battles entities like the Pakistani Taliban that directly threaten the country.

“The fact that the state, to this point, has not stood in the way of this political party’s formation gives the lie to the idea that Pakistan’s powers-that-be are engaged in a full-court blitz against terror and extremism of all stripes,” said Michael Kugelman, the deputy director for Asia at the Wilson Center, a research institute in Washington.

Neither Pakistan’s interior ministry, which oversees counterterrorism operations, nor the military’s media wing, responded to phone calls seeking comment.

Pakistan’s all-powerful military openly controls the country’s foreign policy and internal security, and its spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, is widely considered to have helped establish the Lashkar militant group in 1989 to counter India.

The Pakistani government and military deny any link to that group. But officials have publicly rebuffed pressure by the United States and India to charge Mr. Saeed in the Mumbai attacks, arguing that there is not enough evidence to prosecute him.

Mr. Rana said he did not think the state was behind the new party. “Some people in the security establishment might be putting their weight behind this party,” he said. “But I don’t see this as part of a concerted push by the state.”

The dispute over Pakistan’s allowing Lashkar-e-Taiba’s ideology to persist under yet another name, and how far Islamabad will go to get rid of jihadists, has damaged relations between Pakistan and the United States in the past. And the announcement of the new party could further strain ties at a time when President Trump has laid out a South Asia strategy that includes new steps to pressure Pakistan to shut down militant sanctuaries.

“For Washington, the question is and will continue to be why the Pakistani state isn’t stopping a political party tied to Lashkar-e-Taiba from being formed, particularly in light of President Trump’s recent harsh words about Pakistan,” Mr. Kugelman said.

Foreign policy aside, analysts said Pakistan was hurting itself the most by allowing extremist groups to have political wings and to introduce more radical elements into mainstream society.

“Hafiz Saeed’s ability to damage Indian interests has declined sharply in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attack,” said Siddharth Varadarajan, an Indian journalist who covers Pakistan-based Islamist groups. “But the Pakistani establishment’s failure to recognize the threat he poses to the people of the country poses a danger to Pakistan itself.”

September 18, 2017   No Comments

TTP magazine: more fiction than fact

By Tahmina Rashid in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2017.
The writer is an associate professor at an Australian university.
Last month the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan released the inaugural issue of its English-language magazine Sunnat-e-Khola following in the footsteps of the Islamic State or Da’ish. Notably the 45-page magazine is from those women who migrated to Khurasan, supposedly a caliphate established by Da’ish in Afghanistan. But unlike Dabiq, a high-quality magazine issued by Da’ish, this is an amateur effort with low-quality images. The pieces are also poorly written and riddled with typos. On the cover or title page is the image of a lone woman clad in a black, Saudi-style abaya. On the contents page is the image of a woman holding a child in Afghan-style burqa. Both are shown walking on the sand in a desert, in an effort perhaps to convey the hardship of migrant women believers.

Random references to Muslim history are made in the editorial titled ‘Pak-India Decisive War’ before the performance of the Pakistan Army is panned down in the 1971 and Kargil conflicts, raising questions about the legitimate representation of Muslims in wars with the Taliban. It heaps scorns on the army for its failures, kow-towing to the US and torturing Taliban men and women. It claims that Pakistan is facing an existential threat from India and only the TTP can be the saviour.

One feature titled ‘Believing Women’ is the English translation of a speech of TTP leader Mullah Fazlullah, alias Khurasani, who fled to Afghanistan when the Pakistan military led an operation in Swat to regain control of the area. He later became the TTP chief after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in 2013. His speech is a call for migration and jihad, making reference to the pharaoh of Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and Asiya, the wife of the Egyptian pharaoh, who left the luxuries of life and endured hardship for her faith in God. He makes references to many women from the early period of Islam, including pious Hazrat Sumayya, noting that she did not waver despite the torture leading to her death. He reminds women of their religious obligation to migrate and participate in jihad, taking a swipe at women serving in American and Pakistani armies.

Another feature, ‘My Journey: From Ignorance to Guidance’ is an 18-page-long story of Dr Khaula Bint Abdul Aziz, daughter of an army officer, who graduated from a medical school in Lahore. It makes absurd claims such as looking after heart and cancer patients while also treating psychiatric and mental health patients in the UK. She claims to have found true faith after indulging in the luxuries of life, travelling around the world and meaninglessly spending time with friends in the UK.

Her story seems like a story of a dreamy teenager who travels across international borders with ease, finds a true teacher, is able to live as she seems fit from a high earning health professional to a stay-at-home pious woman, who travels at whim between Pakistan, Syria and Afghanistan. She is able to miraculously connect with a girl from Jamia Hafsa of Lal Masjid when she desires through a random call on her cellphone in Syria. She finally finds the ‘Ta’ifa al-Mansurah — the victorious sect TTP, perhaps making a reference to some groups mentioned in traditional Islamic literature, and also a sectarian militant group formed in 2006 in Iraq. She is highly critical of the Pakistan Army and the women of their household for their secular ways of life and alliance with the American foreign policy. She is also critical of the media, ISI, ISPR, politicians in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, and continues to make references to Lal Masjid. The events described in the narrative appear to have been imagined and the timeline does not make any sense, raising doubts about it being a real-life account of a health professional.

There is also an interview of a minor titled ‘Come Let’s Do Jihad With Little Omar Mujahid’. It is an account of a six-year-old boy from Khurasan, studying in grade one in a madrassa and interestingly studying Urdu, English, math and Islamic studies. Omar prays for the Pakistan Army to become Muslims and join jihad as he has learnt of their alliance with the West. However, consistent with the theme of the magazine, after his friend’s death in a drone attack while bowing in the morning prayer, Omar plans to fight the infidel (read: Pakistan Army).

Another interview with the first wife of the TTP leader further highlights the call for and significance of migration and jihad for women. Contrary to the public account that Fazlullah abducted her, she states that her father gave her in marriage due to his high morals and piety, at the age of 14. She is critical of the marriage laws in Pakistan and denounces the legal age of marriage (18 years) as against the injunctions of Islam. She argues that late marriage leads to the moral destruction of a society and an early marriage will enable girls to have lots of children. She received religious education from Fazlullah and claims to have a huge following in Swat.

She claims that Fazlullah influenced educated working women in the area who found peace through his teachings and refrained from working without the veil. She narrates the events leading to their sudden escape due to the military operation in Swat, noting that Fazullah’s mother was unaware of his activities and was left behind since she was sick and bedridden, and was detained by the army. Similar to the contradictions in Dr Khaula’s story, despite her escape, she claims to be present in the prison when Fazlullah’s mother became seriously ill. One wonders at the mystery of these accounts where miraculously these women were present at different places.

The last article ‘Rise: Oh daughters of Hazrat Hawwa, Time of Martyrdom has come’ makes reference to all scholars of ‘Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamaa’ without naming any of them, highlighting the obligation to join if a Muslim country is attacked. In line with the key theme that Islam is under siege, it states that many Muslim countries are under attack from infidels. It criticises the “apostate leaders of Pakistan and generals” for opposing the implementation of Sharia law in the country, calling on the daughters of Eve to respond to the call of duty and rise against them. Like Da’ish, it encourages women to leave their families, if they obstruct in their call of duty as they will be rewarded in the afterlife.

Throughout the magazine, one can notice the focus on women and children, random references to the glorious past and sacrifices of pious Muslim men and women alike, particularly reminding Muslim women of their duty to migrate and join active jihad, including combat roles. This amateur contribution by the TTP highlights Da’ish’s influence on its thinking as well as strategies. Pakistan is already grappling with the rising influence of Da’ish in many parts of the country. The media has also highlighted incidents where women left their families and went to Syria/Iraq to live in the caliphate. But the situation there may provide an opportunity for Da’ish runaways and returnees to establish a caliphate in Khurasan. This dangerous development should be a cause of concern for the security establishment of Pakistan. https://tribune.com.pk/story/1507588/ttp-magazine-fiction-fact/

September 16, 2017   No Comments

Pak Terrorism Scene – Sept 16, 2017

Boy killed in blast: report in Dawn, September 16th, 2017

QUETTA: A 10-year-old boy was killed in a landmine blast near the Pir Koh gas field in Dera Bugti district on Friday, Levies officials said.

Mohammad Amin was going home when he hit the landmine planted by suspected militants in the area. He died on the spot.

Rescue workers and security forces shifted the body to the District Hospital. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion.
https://www.dawn.com/news/1358043/boy-killed-in-blast

Militant among 7 suspects held: report in The Nation, Sept 16, 2017

KARACHI – Security agencies claimed to have arrested seven suspects including an operative of Balochistan’s separatist movement and militant having affiliation with banned sectarian outfit on Friday.

The Sindh Rangers arrested a suspected militant of Balochistan separatist movement in a raid conducted near Hub Chowki area. The raid has been conducted on a tip off while the accused arrested was identified as Muhim Khan, son of Sher Jan.

Rangers spokesperson said that the accused was affiliated with the Lashkar-e-Balochistan since 2012 and had been involved in number of cases of terrorism and extremism. The spokesperson said that the accused during initial course of interrogation revealed that he was involved in attacking a vehicle belonging to the agriculture department with lobbing hand grenade near Hub Chowki in June 2014, remote control bomb blasts at the high transmission lines and transformers in Hub area I n September 2014 and January 2016, attacking an under construction building in Hub area in Hub area in January 2015, setting a private university van on fire on April 2015, attacking a police mobile van in Hub area in August 2016 and several attacks on gas pipelines and electricity poles in Karachi and Hub.

The spokesperson also claimed to have recovered arms, ammunitions, explosives and improvised explosive devices from his possession.

Separately, a suspected member of the banned sectarian outfit was arrested during a raid conducted in Nazimabad locality. The suspect was later identified as Jafar Hussain alias Nai. Rangers’ spokesperson said that the accused was affiliated with Sipah-e-Muhammad Pakistan, adding that he was involved in extortion activities and dealings with the arms and ammunitions.

In another raid, another suspect, namely Tabish alias Chand was arrested during a raid in Lyari neighborhood. Ranger’s spokesperson said that the accused belonged to Lyari gang war and was involved in various cases of crime including extortion.

A member of a political party was arrested during a raid in Zaman Town area. The accused was identified as Niazuddin alias Jani. Rangers spokesperson said that the accused belonging to a political party had been involved in setting vehicles on fire during strike calls. Meanwhile, two more suspects, Rehmat Khan and Haroon and Abdul Razzak were arrested during separate raids in Zaman Town and Sharafi Goth areas. The suspects were involved in various cases of crime.

The spokesperson also claims to have recovered arms, ammunitions and narcotics from their possession.

The suspects were later handed over to the police. Meanwhile, police claimed to have arrested at least 47 suspects in various raids and operations carried out in different areas.

The suspects arrested were including street criminals, bandits, drug paddlers, absconders and others. Police claimed to have recovered weapons and narcotics from the possession of accused persons while registered cases against the accused persons. http://nation.com.pk/national/16-Sep-2017/militant-among-7-suspects-held

September 16, 2017   No Comments

Pak Army proposed plan to mainstream militant groups: Lt Gen Amjad Shuaib (retd)

Reuters report in The Nation online, Sept 16, 2017 at 8:47 am
A new Pakistani political party controlled by an Islamist with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head is backing a candidate in a by-election on Sunday, in what a former senior army officer says is a key step in a military-proposed plan to mainstream militant groups.

The Milli Muslim League party loyal to Hafiz Saeed – who the United States and India accuse of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people – has little chance of seeing its favored candidate win the seat vacated when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was removed from office by the Supreme Court in July.

But the foray into politics by Saeed’s Islamist charity is following a blueprint that Sharif himself rejected when the military proposed it last year, retired Lieutenant General Amjad Shuaib told Reuters.

Three close Sharif confidants with knowledge of the discussions confirmed that Sharif had opposed the “mainstreaming” plan, which senior military figures and some analysts see as a way of steering ultra-religious groups away from violent jihad.

“We have to separate those elements who are peaceful from the elements who are picking up weapons,” Shuaib said.

Pakistan’s powerful military has long been accused of fostering militant groups as proxy fighters opposing neighboring arch-enemy India, a charge the army denies.

“PATRIOTIC PEOPLE”

Saeed’s religious charity launched the Milli Muslim League party within two weeks after the court ousted Sharif over corruption allegations.

Yaqoob Sheikh, the Lahore candidate for Milli Muslim League, is standing as an independent after the Electoral Commission said the party was not yet legally registered.

But Saeed’s lieutenants, JUD workers and Milli Muslim League officials are running his campaign and portraits of Saeed adorn every poster promoting Sheikh.

Another Islamist designated a terrorist by the United States, Fazlur Rehman Khalil, has told Reuters he too plans to soon form his own party to advocate strict Islamic law.

“God willing, we will come into the mainstream – our country right now needs patriotic people,” Khalil said, vowing to turn Pakistan into a state government by strict Islamic law.

Saeed’s charity and Khalil’s Ansar ul-Umma organization are both seen by the United States as fronts for militant groups the army has been accused of sponsoring. The military denies any policy of encouraging radical groups.

Both Islamist groups deny their political ambitions were engineered by the military. The official army spokesman was not available for comment after queries were sent to the press wing.

Still, hundreds of MML supporters, waving posters of Saeed and demanding his release from house arrest, chanted “Long live Hafiz Saeed! Long live the Pakistan army!” at political rallies during the past week.

“Anyone who is India’s friend is a traitor, a traitor,” went another campaign slogan, a reference to Sharif’s attempts to improve relations with long-time foe India that was a source of tension with the military.

‘DERADICALISATION’ PLAN

Both Saeed and Khalil are proponents of a strict interpretation of Islam and have a history of supporting violence – each man was reportedly a signatory to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa declaring war on the United States.

They have since established religious groups that they say are unconnected to violence, though the United States maintains those groups are fronts for funnelling money and fighters to militants targeting India.

Analyst Khaled Ahmed, who has researched Saeed’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity and its connections to the military, says the new political party is clearly an attempt by the generals to pursue an alternative to dismantling its militant proxies.

“One thing is the army wants these guys to survive,” Ahmed said. “The other thing is that they want to also balance the politicians who are more and more inclined to normalize relations with India.”

The military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency first began pushing the political mainstreaming plan in April 2016, according to retired general Shuaib, a former director of the army’s military intelligence wing that is separate from the ISI.

He said the proposal was shared with him in writing by the then-ISI chief, adding that he himself had spoken with Khalil as well as Saeed in an unofficial capacity about the plan.

“Fazlur Rehman Khalil was very positive. Hafiz Saeed was very positive,” Shuaib said. “My conversation with them was just to confirm those things which I had been told by the ISI and other people.”

Saeed has been under house arrest since January at his house in the eastern city of Lahore. The United States has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his conviction over the Mumbai attacks.

Then-Prime Minister Sharif, however, was strongly against the military’s mainstreaming plan, according to Shuaib and three members of Sharif’s inner circle, including one who was in some of the tense meetings over the issue.

Sharif wanted to completely dismantle groups like JuD. Disagreement on what to do about anti-India proxy fighters was a major source of rancour with the military, according to one of the close Sharif confidants.

In recent weeks several senior figures from the ruling PML-N party have publicly implied that elements of the military – which has run Pakistan for almost half its modern history and previously ousted Sharif in a 1999 coup – had a hand in the court ouster of Sharif, a charge both the army and the court reject.

A representative of the PML-N, which last month replaced him as prime minister with close ally Shahid Khaqi Abbasi, said the party was “not aware” of any mainstreaming plan being brought to the table.

RELIGION AND POLITICS
Some analysts worry that mainstreaming such controversial groups would be a risky strategy for Pakistan.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has threatened sanctions against members of Pakistan’s military and even raised the specter of declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.

“It will send a wrong message,” said analyst Zahid Hussain, who nevertheless thought that Saeed’s new party would have a “negligible” effect on Pakistani elections because religious parties have never won more than a few seats in parliament.

Others are not so sure.

Sheikh, the MML candidate in Sunday’s by-election who says he was handpicked by Hafiz Saeed, vowed to establish strict Islamic rule and “break” liberalism and secularism.

Analyst Ahmed warned that few existing religious parties have a charismatic leader like Saeed, and Pakistan may find itself unable to control a rising tide of Islamist sentiment.

“If Hafiz Saeed comes into the mainstream, it’s not that he is going to be politicized,” he added. “It’s that he is going to make politics more religious.”
http://nation.com.pk/national/16-Sep-2017/pakistan-military-proposed-plan-to-mainstream-militant-groups-lt-gen-amjad-shuaib-retd

September 16, 2017   No Comments

Pak Govt plans to ban Ansar-ul-Shariah

report in Daily Times, September 14th 2017.
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday said that the government will soon impose a ban on Ansar-ul-Shariah, the group allegedly involved in attack on Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) leader in Karachi on Eid day.

At a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, the minister claimed that militant group’s all members in Karachi including its chief have been arrested. He added that the remaining militants, who are on the run, will be nabbed soon. He said that Sindh Rangers Director General Maj Gen Saeed had briefed him about the attack on the MQM-P leader Khawaja Izharul Hassan and the developments in the case. He said that every political party, including MQM-Pakistan, had political freedom. He added that no violent group or party would be allowed to spread anarchy or chaos in the country.
http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/14-Sep-17/govt-plans-to-ban-ansar-ul-shariah

September 14, 2017   No Comments

Pakistan’s terrorism policy questioned: by Durdana Najam in the Nation, sept 12, 2017

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Lahore.
The BRICS declaration has put our cards on the table.
We have been told that our two religious organizations, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) though proscribed both by the United Nations and Pakistan, have been fomenting terrorism in the region.The declaration did not name Pakistan, but both organizations had been based in Pakistan, and their leaders, Hafiz Saeed and Azhar Mahmood are living here.The former was put on house arrest following Trump’s election while the latter has been underground in his native town Bahawalpur, running a fleet of Madrassas.LeT, and JeM may had been proscribed, but their organizational structures were never touched, giving them the leeway to resurface with new names. The LeT became Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and the JeM turned into Tehrik-al-Furqan.India has been trying since long to put Masood’s name on the UN list of terrorists, but China vetoed it always.

But now China has also told us that, “It’s time to put our house in order.” The Foreign Minister (FM) of Pakistan Khawaja Asif while talking about the BRICS declaration that has accused Pakistan based militant organizations of pouring oil in the Afghan war, pleaded the architects of the foreign policy in Pakistan to heed the voices emanating from the international corridors.In a clear helplessness, the minister did not give a clear-cut policy of how to go about ‘putting our house in order.’ He was looking somewhere else for the decision to rethink the existing foreign policy model and make it more reliant on diplomacy rather than on the application of covert forces.

It took a bit out of us when Russia and China became accusatory against Pakistan.The government immediately went into a damage control mode, and the FM went to China to get the concession.However, the question is why our friends had been forced to act strangers.Why this shift, when only a few weeks back, on the occasion of Washington’s new policy on Afghanistan, China asked the international community to appreciate Pakistan’s sacrifices in the war against terrorism.Russia too gave cover to Pakistan against Trump’s naked accusations that Pakistan was harbouring terrorists.What has changed in these two weeks that both China and Russia have joined Indian rant to designate Pakistani based religious organizations source of militancy in the region, especially in Afghanistan.Perhaps the change was in the making, and only we could not see it coming.Or maybe the architects have become immune to such allegations.But in the wake of China’s increasing economic involvement in Pakistan, this warning cannot be taken lightly, and perhaps, as we have been told the time has come to put our house in order.In reality, though, the foreign office had smelled the coffee much earlier.

The meeting of country’s high-ranking military, civil and intelligence officials last year, which will go down in the history of Pakistan, as ‘Dawn Leaks,’ gave out the same message.
No logic can justify the ‘flawed’ decision to leak the talking points of such a sensitive meeting in the press.But one can hardly deny the similarity in the message both Dawn Leaks and the BRICS declaration carried; that the international community is running out of patience with our adventure of nurturing the Jihadi outfits disrupting situations in Afghanistan and Kashmir further.Unfortunately, the message got warped in the manner in which such an important policy issue was made public.

The trust deficit, in the civil-military relations, has only widened because of the policy of retribution, both sides have been adopting to get even with one another. It would have been pragmatic, if the time and effort spent on Panama case, that eventually removed the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, were invested in reassessing the foreign policy to make Pakistan a responsible country.Two wrongs never make a right.The government was wrong to put its military at the centre of the accusation ring – opening it up to India’s aggression that used the opportunity to expose Pakistan further.The military was wrong in denying the reality, and instead of hunting out the enemies it chose to sleep with them and pulled the guns at the government.The story has revisited us, and however nonchalant we may try to pose the reality is that Pakistan is facing isolation.Our sacrifices in the line of terrorism, and our claim to have made headways in clamping the head of this monster are likely to wither unless we decide to get rid of the long held dependency on the covert forces to protect our false fear and insecurities from regional countries.Pakistan can be better saved if shielded by a healthy economy and an honest political leadership.

There is scarcely any solace, as some people are finding, in the BRICS declaration also bracketing Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as an equal spoiler of regional peace.Remember, before becoming India’s underbelly the TPP has been part of ours.Their apologists for years had called them ‘the strayed youth.’ Pervez Rashid, Nassir Janjua, and Munawer Saeed are on record saying so.But the problem is that except ourselves we find everyone else against us.Now that the Chief of Army Staff has asked the world to do more, rather than depending on us, we are left but with prayers to see sanity prevail. http://nation.com.pk/columns/12-Sep-2017/pakistan-s-terrorism-policy-questioned

September 12, 2017   No Comments

Russia hand in BRICS terror rap on Pak: by Sachin Parashar in the Times of India, Sept 12, 2017

New Delhi: Russia has hailed the Xiamen BRICS Declaration and its naming of Pakistan-based terror groups as a victory for countries concerned about terrorism in South Asia. Despite it being seen as defending Pakistan from US pressure on the issue, Moscow’s position on Islamabad has been quite nuanced. Official sources here confirmed Russia worked actively to convince China to drop its opposition to namechecking the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM).

The naming of these terror groups was seen by Indian officials as a major diplomatic breakthrough in Xiaman as Beijing had stalled all such attempts by both Russia and India during the BRICS Summit last year.

“We expect the declaration to lead to more concrete action against terrorist organisations,“ top Russian diplomat Sergey Karmalito told TOI.

The next logical step for India is to get Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar proscribed by the UN. China has continued to block all attempts to include Azhar in the UNSC sanctions list.

Indian officials are now hoping that Moscow will be of help to New Delhi in convincing Beijing to give up its opposition to the ban on Azhar too. According to diplomatic sources, Moscow is of the view that on the limited issue of Azhar, China may, in the near future, relent.

“Beijing knows it has limited bargaining power with Azhar. NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) and CPEC of course are different issues,“ said a source who did not wish to be named.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier this year publicly appealed to Russia to convince China to support India’s NSG membership bid, but Moscow is not hopeful of a breakthrough any time soon. However, while there are concerns here about Moscow’s attempts to engage Taliban in the Afghanistan peace process, Russia is also trying to involve India more in that process.

This is evident, as sources said, from a proposal by Moscow that President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for Afghanistan Zamir Kabu lov visit India soon. The visit could take place in October.

Kabulov is not the most popular Russian figure in India, with some of his comments on peace and stability in the region seen here as a sign of Russia’s growing strategic embrace of Islamabad. After US President Trump attacked Pakistan while announcing his new Afghanistan policy , Kabulov said putting pressure on Pakistan would only further destabilise the region.

While Kabulov recently denied US allegations that Russia was giving military aid to the Taliban, he also said there was a stalemate in Kabul’s conflict with Taliban, and that, in this situation, it was necessary “to make the most active efforts to search for ways to launch the intra-Afghan dialogue“. With the Taliban now controlling almost 45% of Afghan territory, Moscow believes it’s impossible to keep them out of any dialogue for sustainable peace. http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31808&articlexml=Russia-hand-in-BRICS-terror-rap-on-Pak-12092017007018

September 12, 2017   No Comments